Henri Matisse. The Blue Window. Issy-les-Moulineaux, summer 1913

Henri Matisse The Blue Window Issy-les-Moulineaux, summer 1913

  • MoMA, Floor 5, 506 The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries

When this painting was first reproduced, in the May 1914 edition of the journal Les Soirées de Paris, it was titled La Glace sans tain, or "the mirror without silvering," referring to a device known as a Claude mirror: the dark, red-framed square in the picture. Many artists used one of these slightly convex, dark-tinted mirrors to clarify their compositions; a scene reflected in it is less colorful than life, its compositional elements accentuated. Something close to that effect is visible here in the structured vertical and horizontal bands and the cool blue palette that Matisse painted over other layers of color, some of which are still visible. As he simplified forms he reinforced them with incising and scraping, in, for example, the cloud at top left.

Gallery label from Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917, July 18–October 11, 2010.
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
51 1/2 x 35 5/8" (130.8 x 90.5 cm)
Credit
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund
Object number
273.1939
Copyright
© 2021 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

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Provenance Research Project

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.

The artist, Paris
1913 Karl Ernst Osthaus for the Folkwang Museum Hagen, Germany
1922 Folkwang Museum, Essen
1937 removed as "degenerate art" (by Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda), 1937
1938 legally seized by the German Reich under the Law on the Confiscation of Products of Degenerate Art of May 31, 1938 (Gesetz über die Einziehung von Erzeugnissen entarteter Kunst), RGBl. 1938 I, p. 612
1939 on consignment to art dealer Karl Buchholz, Berlin
Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York
April 13, 1939 The Museum of Modern Art (Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund)

Provenance research is a work in progress, and is frequently updated with new information. If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please email [email protected] or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
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Provenance

The artist, Paris
1913 Karl Ernst Osthaus for the Folkwang Museum Hagen, Germany
1922 Folkwang Museum, Essen
1937 removed as "degenerate art" (by Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda), 1937
1938 legally seized by the German Reich under the Law on the Confiscation of Products of Degenerate Art of May 31, 1938 (Gesetz über die Einziehung von Erzeugnissen entarteter Kunst), RGBl. 1938 I, p. 612
1939 on consignment to art dealer Karl Buchholz, Berlin
Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York
April 13, 1939 The Museum of Modern Art (Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund)

Updated by SN, Oct. 25, 2021


Notes as of 2013:
The painting has no provenance gaps and is clear for loan.
The Nazi government itself ultimately owned the objects in German public collections. Based on this definition "degenerate" artworks removed from German public museums are therefore not subject to ownership claims.

Alice Marquis Goldfarb erroneously states in Alfred H. Barr, Jr.: Missionary for the Modern (Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989) that the five works (Derain 262.1939; Lehmbruck 268.1939; Klee 271.1939; Matisse 273.1939; Kirchner 274.1939) Barr acquired from Curt Valentin in 1939 were purchased at the infamous Fischer auction of June 30, 1939 (sale of 125 paintings and sculptures removed from German collections by Galerie Fischer, Lucerne). By that time, however, the works had already entered MoMA's Collection (on April 13, 1939).
Goldfarb's myth comes up again and again in the media and even in scholarship. See, for instance, Goldfarb's letter to the editor from Oct 5, 1994 published in the NYTimes, in which she states that Valentin acquired these five works from the Fischer auction "at the behest of Alfred Barr … who provided money donated to the museum." This assumption is incorrect.
Furthermore, Goldfarb argues that Barr/MoMA concealed the problematic provenance of these works ("All five works were added to that summer's 'Art in Our Time' exhibition. No hint about their original owners appeared then or since … "). This is also incorrect. While it is true that the exhibition catalogue notes that these works were "lent anonymously" - which has to do with the fact that Valentin first lend these works anonymously to the Museum before they were acquired - it is not true that Barr was not candid about the provenance of these works, which he published in MoMA's press release "Exiled Art Purchased by Museum of Modern Art," August 7, 1939" (see Richard Oldenburg's response to Goldfarb's letter, NYTimes, Oct 14, 1994).

Exhibition history

MoMA Exh. #1772: "Objects of Desire: The Modern Still Life", May 25 - August 26, 1997

MoMA Exh. #1837G: "MoMA2000, ModernStarts: Places, Unreal City", 3rd Floor, Gallery 26, October 28, 1999 - March 14, 2000

Tokyo, Ueno Royal Museum, "Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, 1900-1955", October 6, 2001 - February 3, 2002

MoMA Exh. #1899: "To Be Looked At: Painting and Sculpture from the Collection", MoMAQNS-Collection Space, added February 25 - September 6, 2004

MoMA Exh. #1931: "Painting and Sculpture: Inaugural Installation", 5th Floor, gallery 6, November 20, 2004 - December 8, 2008

Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, "Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917", March 20 - June 20, 2010 and tour:
MoMA Exh. #2125: "Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917", July 18 - October 11, 2010

MoMA Exh. #2103: "Painting and Sculpture Changes 2010", 5th Floor, gallery 6, added October 19, 2010 - February 7, 2012

Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, "Fresh Widow. The Window in Art Since Matisse and Duchamp", March 31 - August 12, 2012

Atlanta, High Museum of Art, "Fast Forward: Modern Moments 1913 >> 2013", October 13, 2012 - January 20, 2013

Perth, Art Gallery of Western Australia, “Van Gogh, Dalí, and Beyond: The World Reimagined”, June 15 – December 2, 2013

MoMA Exh. #2320: "Painting and Sculpture Changes 2015", 5th Floor, gallery 6, added July 20, 2015 - August 15, 2016

Baltimore, The Baltimore Museum of Art, "Matisse/Diebenkorn", October 23, 2016 - January 29, 2017 and tour:
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, March 11 - May 29, 2017

MoMA Exh. #2370: "Public Space Changes 2017", 5th Floor, north elevator bay, added June 21 - December 11, 2017

MoMA Exh. #2393: "Painting and Sculpture Changes 2018", 5th Floor, gallery 6, added January 26, 2018 - June 15, 2019

MoMA Exh. #2418: "Collection 1880s-1940s", 5th Floor, gallery 506, "Henri Matisse", October 21, 2019 -
(the Museum was closed from March 13 - August 26, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic)

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Feedback

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